The Federation of Small Businesses has said the closure of Clydesdale Bank branches could “destroy efforts to rejuvenate” high streets.
The comments follow an announcement last week that the bank were to close their branches in Forfar and Brechin. Montrose will become the branch for Brechin customers, while Dundee is the recommended branch for Forfar customers.
Catherine Ward, Development Manager of the Federation of Small Businesses in North East Scotland said: “This closure come at a time when small firms across Angus are already struggling to access banking services. Increased reliance on limited Post Office facilities and poor broadband connectivity have seriously impacted the ability of small businesses to bank effectively. This hurts their productivity and, ultimately, their bottom line.
“Our research shows that small businesses feel there is no substitute for in-person advice when tackling complex financial matters. Physical branches are also a critical resource for our many members who deal heavily in cash, and therefore need regular access to over-the-counter banking facilities. To expect customers to travel – perhaps daily – to Dundee to carry out these transactions is unacceptable. Banks have a duty to ensure that what they leave behind works for all their customers. That means improved pick-ups for cash-based businesses, a modern, well-maintained ATM network and a practical solutions for business customers currently dependent on a local branch.
“The UK’s bank branch network has halved in size to just over 8000 in the past 25 years. In Scotland, there are now fewer than 1000 active branches in Scotland. This has restricted small business output – the lifeblood of our economy. What’s more, we know that awareness of the Access to Banking Protocol, designed to protect vulnerable customers in the event of a branch closure, is no way near as high as it should be.
“Many towns in Angus have already lost local services because of big business or public sector re-organisations. And while on paper, it might make short term commercial sense to rationalise operations, the long term impact of these decisions on local communities could destroy the efforts to rejuvenate our high streets and save our town centres”.